Nash Close was named after the Nash family of the Noak, the Squires of Martley for nigh on 280 years. The Nash name thus lives on although the male line died out in 1989 with the death of Mr. Slade Nash.
The Noak still dominates the village standing as it does on a hill about half a mile north-west of the church on the road to Clifton-upon-Teme. This three storyed handsome red brick house, listed Grade II, dated from the early years of the 17th century but was largely rebuilt in 1853. Early records refer to it as “The Noak”. James Nash, then living at Pudford, purchased it during the Restoration of the English monarchy under Charles II (1660). He also purchased the manor of St. Peter’s, Droitwich, and either he or his son purchased Barbers, Martley. From 1660 the Noak remained in the Nash hands until 1937 when, following the death of his father, Slade Nash returned home from Sudan, where he was a cotton planter, and sold the Estate at auction on 9th August 1937.
Slade Nash himself died on 27th June, 1989, aged 87, at Redroofs, Everdine Lane, Colwall, but his ashes were buried alongside his father’s grave in St. Peter’s churchyard. Four years before he died, he set up “The Slade Nash Charity” to benefit the poor and sick, the schools and the church of Martley.
James came from a long established Worcestershire family whose wealth was based on the flourishing and lucrative woollen industry. They owned mills along the banks of the River Salwarpe. There were branches in Droitwich and Worcester but James came from Ombersley, where his father and grandfather lived.
However, James Nash seems to have settled at Pudford Farm early in his life as he is named as one of those who was fined for refusing a knighthood at the Coronation of Charles I (1625) with Pudford, Martley being given as his address. He would then have been aged about 33.
Pudford is a property dating back to 1290 when it was given to the Nuns of Westwood, near Droitwich. At the dissolution of their Convent under Henry VIII, Pudford was acquired by Judge Pakington. James Nash purchased it in the early 1660s when he probably built the present house on the site of the Nuns’ Grange.
James’ younger brother, John, was the more famous of the two. He was an
Alderman of Worcester. A wealthy clothier, he was the founder of one of the most important Worcester charities, the Nash hospital. Little is known of James other than that he married twice. His first wife, Elizabeth, was the 5th daughter of Richard Vernon, Rector of Hanbury, and aunt to the Rev. John Vernon, the first of the three Vernon rectors of Martley. By his second marriage to Elizabeth of Bromwich James had a son born in 1642, also James, to whom he gave both Pudford and The Noak although he seems to have lived at Barbers. This second James had two sons, Soloway and James. Soloway and his wife Miriam lived at North Piddle. They had 3 sons, all of whom went to Oxford. The Rev. James married Susannah at North Piddle on 25th October 1728.
On the death of the second James in 1704, The Noak passed through the St. Peter’s Droitwich branch of the Nash family eventually to George Nash, one of whose close relatives was the Rev. Dr. Treadway Russell Nash (1725 – 1811) famous for his “Collections for the History of Worcestershire”. The name `Slade’ came in to the family when George Nash married Alice Slade of Bewdley in 1698.
Their son, George Nash, died without issue and The Noak Estate was inherited by his nephew, Slade Nash of Bewdley, a son of his brother James and of his wife Theodosia Brettell of Wolverley. Slade Nash married Mary Jervis at Stone, giving his occupation as a tanner, on 11th April 1757. They had at least seven children. Slade’s first son was a clergyman and it was the second son, George, a twin of William, born 1758, who inherited.
George had no children and The Noak was inherited by Dr. James Nash, a descendant of the first James Nash’s marriage to Elizabeth Vernon. He was a prominent physician at the Worcester Infirmary where he worked alongside Sir Charles Hastings, the founder of the BMA., whose childhood home had been Martley’s Rectory. Dr. James died aged 79 in 1880 at the Nash town house, 13 High Street, Worcester. He left The Noak to his son Richard who in turn left it to his son, Richard Slade Nash.
Richard was 27 when he inherited The Noak Estate in 1884. Five years later, in 1889, he married Miss Edith Day from a well known Somerset horse racing family. They had 7 children, 4 sons and 3 daughters, yet only two survived in to old age: Miss Barbara Frances, the 6th child, and Slade Nash, the 7th child. Their third son died aged 2 days.
Dorothy Alice, the eldest daughter, died suddenly of acute myelitis (a form of polio) at The Noak on 16th May 1911 within days of returning from a May Ball in Cambridge where her brother George was a student. All three of the Nash boys, George, James and Slade, went to School House, King’s School, Worcester. This was to be expected as their mother was the daughter of the Rev. Maurice Day, Headmaster of King’s for 20 years from 1859 (and later vicar of Wichenford).
George, the eldest son, was at School House for 4 years from 1900 and then went on to Repton. From there he won an open scholarship to Magdalene College, Cambridge, where, in 1912, he graduated with a BA Hons degree in History. Wishing to be ordained, he then studied Divinity at Cuddesdon Theological College, Oxford, and it was from there that he joined the Worcestershire Regiment.
The second son James was at School House for longer, 1903-12. He won a Meeke scholarship to Hertford College, Oxford, to read Classics but, before graduating, he joined the East Surrey Regiment in August 1914.
Within a year, these two bright young men were dead. Later, the George Nash Divinity Prize and the James Nash Classical Prize were endowed in their honour, both for the Fifth Forms of King’s School.
James was the first to fall in action, on 2nd of April 1915, in the trenches north-east of Mount Kemmel near Ypres. He was killed by a bullet coming from long range from the right flank. He was buried in the Kemmel Military Cemetary, Flanders, aged 21.
Then just two months later, Richard and Edith had another shock when a War Office telegram arrived at The Noak informing them that George had been seriously wounded in the head, on 10th June, during the Battle at Hooge. An operation was at first thought to have been successful but he deteriorated. His mother braved the dangers of travelling abroad during the war and was with him when he died at the Boulogne Stationary Hospital on 29th June 1915, aged 24.
On Thursday 1st July, Edith arrived back in Worcester with her son’s body which was taken on a gun carriage first to The Noak and then, on the next day, to St. Peter’s. His funeral was on the Saturday afternoon, a detachment of King’s school O.T.C. lining the path.
Jeremy Campbell Grant
Taken from the book Martley at the millennium” by David Cropp